Disclaimer: See last 2 chapters... ok, maybe just the first one.
Something strange had happened on that court. Something really strange. He'd felt comfortable on the court, whereas he hadn't felt comfortable anywhere else yet. The feel of the racquet in his hand had soothed him. Had he played tennis before then? Probably.
But those people had insisted on calling him Echizen Ryoma. Who was Echizen Ryoma? Momo had a feeling he had to find this Echizen Ryoma and talk with him. Maybe that would help him get his memories back. And he had to do it soon. Because now Momo had a feeling of urgency; there wasn't a lot of time left. There was something really important that he needed to remember. Really important. God, what was it? He needed to remember…
But first, he had to get some food.
He found himself in front of a sushi shop. This place looked familiar too, as if a lot had happened here too. But for the life of him, Momo couldn't remember what. Oh, well. They had food. Maybe he could ask to work it off by doing dishes or something.
"Hello! Welcome to Kawamura Sushi. We're actually closed now, we close at 9:00 each night, and it's ten now, and- Oh my God. Echizen???" This guy, with a kind voice and kind eyes, stared in shock down at Momo. Geez, another person who called him Echizen? How was it that everyone knew that guy? "Actually, my name's Momo. Can I ask whom you are?"
Kawamura Takashi reeled in shock. What was Echizen doing here? And why was he calling himself Momo? And… why didn't he recognize his sempai? What was going on? Well, first things first. "Ok, Momo *choke*, why don't you come in first. I'll get you some food."
"No wasabi sushi, please." Where had that come from?
Kawamura sighed with relief. At least Echizen remembered that much. "Of course not. Those are only for Fuji."
"Who's Fuji? Sounds like some kind of apple."
Kawamura's eyes flared. He couldn't imagine anyone forgetting Fuji. Echizen had definitely lost his memory. "Um… well… Ok, so what happened to you, Momo? I'm guessing you lost your memory."
Momo blinked, surprised. "How did you know?"
Kawamura sighed. "Look, I know you, ok? And your real name is Echizen Ryoma. But the fact that you're calling yourself Momo… I guess that says a lot about whom you care for. In any case, what happened? You can tell me while I make you some sushi."
The car accident. The hospital. The escape from the hospital. The tennis match. Everything Momo- Ryoma? - remembered was said. And Kawamura nodded as he molded rice and cut fish, laying them out neatly in front of Momo- he couldn't help but think of himself as Momo, even if his real name was Echizen Ryoma.
He was suddenly struck with a thought. "Wait, if I'm Echizen Ryoma…" Kawamura nodded. "Then… Why am I here? Shouldn't I be in America?"
Kawamura stared at Echizen, disbelieving. He began to laugh. "Why… are you…" He doubled over, laughing his head off. Momo failed to see the humor.
Kawamura, wiping away his tears of laughter, asked, "You're asking me? You never tell anybody your plans. Nobody here knew you were coming. That's probably why nobody was looking for you." Momo nodded, then asked, "Do I have a family?" From what the hospital people had told him about families, he had probably told them he was coming- right?
The smile on Kawamura's face disappeared instantly. This was rather uncomfortable for Kawamura. Telling Echizen about himself was really disconcerting. "Yeah. But you were always independent, never told anyone anything, even your family. Come on, I'll take you home."
Munching on some sushi they'd taken with them, the two arrived at a temple.
"What, is my dad a monk or something?" Kawamura nearly choked on a piece of fish. Echizen Nanjiroh, a monk? "No, he's just taking care of the place for now." Momo nodded. "Ok then."
Kawamura knocked on the door. There was a loud miaow from behind the door, and a gruff voice, "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming. Geez, who comes this late at night?" The door opened to reveal a man wearing black robes, scratching his head.
"Oh, Kawamura-san, how nice to see you. Is that sushi?" Kawamura closed his eyes and begged for patience. How could this father see sushi before his own son? What a good parent he was… NOT. Kawamura said firmly, "It's not for you. It's for Ryoma-kun." "Ryoma? Have you seen him then? Wait- it can't be-" Real shock registered on the man's face, and for possibly the first time, his façade of non-caring melted away, and there was a look of shock and relief- and then Momo couldn't see the face anymore, as he was pulled against his… father?… and he heard a voice saying, "You're back…" At his feet, a familiar mriaow came. Karupin. How had he known that name? Well, whatever. Momo was assaulted by feelings that he'd never felt… or maybe he had, and he'd just forgotten them. But this feeling of relief, of warmth, or comfort, of belonging… he was definitely home.
But still, something was wrong. He turned- still in his father's embrace- and he faced Kawamura. "Kawamura-sempai, could you call the other regulars?" Who were the regulars? The term had, once again, slid from his mouth without thinking. "Especially…" especially who? Who was it that he so desperately needed to see? But evidently Kawamura got it. He nodded curtly, and waved goodbye to the Echizen family, jogging home to start phoning.
Ryoma- that was his name, right? – turned to his father again. His family knew he was here now. They didn't have to know what had happened. If he had to, he could tell them later. But, for now… he had something else to do that night. He glanced at his watch. Shit. 11:30. Could he make it? He said frantically, "Dad, I have to go. There's something really important that I have to do tonight. I'll tell you everything when I get back- at least, everything I know. But right now… there's no time left. I really need to go." Looking confused, Echizen Nanjiroh opened his mouth. Ryoma had just returned, and now he was rushing off again? But then he saw the desperation in his son's eyes. There was nothing else he could do. He let his son go. And watched as he fled into the night.
"Shit… shit… shit…" Ryoma fled through the streets, without any clear direction. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't know what he would find. All he knew was that there was no time left, and this was the right way to be going. What was is that he was going to run out of time for? Who or what was he trying to find? He had no idea. None whatsoever.
A bicycle up ahead. Who… wait. He knew that figure. He knew it. And something deep inside him clicked, and everything fell into place.
Ryoma flung himself at the figure on the bike, trusting that Momo would never let him fall.
They lay on the asphalt, raining kisses upon each other. Momo was touching him everywhere, as if burning the contours of his body into his mind. Ryoma kissed every part of Momo's face, imprinting it on his memory forever so he wouldn't forget again. Never. Never again.
Ryoma knew who he was now. He also know who Momo was. And… he remembered the important thing. The thing that he had flown back to Japan for. The thing that he needed to do, today.
"Happy birthday, Momo."
Momo stared at Ryoma in shock, then stared at the watch on his hand. 11:59 PM, July 23rd. The little… he'd just barely made it. Kawamura had told them everything he knew about the situation. Ezhizen had gone through so much, and yet he still remembered such an insignificant thing… Momo held Ryoma close to his chest and began to cry. "Echizen… don't ever do that to me again. You made me so worried…" The two of them embraced on the asphalt as in the distance, a clock sounded midnight, and the sound of runners pounding the pavement became audible. As Ryoma kissed Momo once again, 7 people came into view- and Ryoma could name each and every one of them.
Tezuka, Fuji, Oishi, Eiji, Kaidoh, Inui, Kawamura… they'd all come. And the one that lay beneath him, still holding him tightly… Momoshiro.
"Well, the most important thing in your life is usually the thing that leaves the strongest memory." The doctor's words floated back to Ryoma.
Ryoma knew what the most important thing in his life was now. And he was never going to let him go.